Lion Cubs Born in Oklahoma Zoo for the First Time in 15 Years

by Lauren Boisvert
(Image Credit: Jami Tarris/Getty Images)

The Oklahoma City Zoo is celebrating the birth of four African lion cubs for the first time in 15 years. The zoo announced in August that its lioness, Dunia, was pregnant by their male African lion, Hubert. This is the first litter of cubs for Dunia, and the first for this particular breeding pair. Additionally, a litter of African lions has not been born at the zoo since 2007.

On Monday, Dunia gave birth to three females and a male. She was in labor from 7:15 am to 2:30 pm, with the zoo’s carnivore care team watching via a camera feed. They reported that all four cubs were nursing within hours of birth. KOCO out of Oklahoma City reports that Dunia and the cubs will stay isolated while they bond and recover. Soon, the cubs will be introduced to the other pride members: their dad, Hubert, and another lioness, Dunia’s sister Moto.

“We are incredibly excited to share the news about the recent additions to our African lion pride,” said Tyler Boyd, OKC Zoo’s curator of carnivores. “Throughout her pregnancy, birth, and now care of these four cubs, Dunia has been amazing and is showing excellent maternal care. This birth is vital to the African lion population and has been a culmination of years of hard work, dedication, and commitment by the Oklahoma City Zoo and its supporters, the African Lion [Species Survival Plan], and the Zoo’s carnivore care team. We cannot wait to watch these cubs grow up and become fan favorites for years to come.”

Oklahoma City Zoo Sees First African Lion Cubs in Over a Decade

The Oklahoma City Zoo partners with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan specifically for African lions. There are about 20,000 lions left in the wild in Africa. According to National Geographic, lions have disappeared from 94 percent of their environment. This is now limited to 660,000 square miles where it used to encompass the entire African continent. Since 1994, lion numbers have been halved.

But, the SSP works with AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums to boost populations. Additionally, they manage existing populations of vulnerable animals like the African lion. Dunia and Moto initially came to the OKC Zoo in 2018 as part of a breeding program recommended by the SSP. Now, it looks like that suggestion has paid off with the birth of four new little lions.

“The opportunity to watch Dunia and the rest of the pride experience this addition is going to be incredibly special for our team members and guests,” Tyler Boyd announced in a press release in August. “With African lions listed as a vulnerable species, each birth is vital to the continued success of this species.”